Three weeks after Leduc declared a local state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic, the city announced new measures it says are aimed at helping those in the community facing financial troubles because of COVID-19.
“Council has clearly heard that residents and businesses in our community are suffering financial difficulties as a result of the ongoing pandemic,” Leduc Mayor Bob Young said in a news release on Monday. “As an organization, we are fortunate to be in a position where we are able to support our community and alleviate some of the hardship.”
The city said it is eliminating previously approved tax increases and decided tax penalties won’t be applied for the remainder of 2020, for both residential and non-residential ratepayers. Non-residential ratepayers will also now have the option of deferring tax payments until Dec. 31, 2020 upon request.
“We will continue to look for ways that we can help residents and businesses to navigate this time of uncertainty — and [to help them] thrive when we come out of it,” Young said.
City officials said Monday that they are now expecting that they will have to use reserve funds and lines of credit to cover costs associated with the COVID-19 public health crisis.
“These include direct costs, such as overtime for essential services areas, materials and supplies and capital costs, as well as indirect costs resulting from deferred utility payments, reduced fines, utility and tax penalty elimination, among others,” the city said.
Last week, the city announced it was temporarily laying off 100 casual city workers and implementing a hiring freeze, a move officials project will save the municipality $150,000.
“We have taken a number of measures to ensure that we are as sustainable as possible while maintaining the services on which our residents and businesses rely,” acting city manager Michael Pieters said. “Thanks to ongoing initiatives to ensure we are fiscally responsible as an organization, we have a good foundation to continue to work with council to address COVID-19 impacts in the short and long term.
“We are acting prudently to ensure that we are able to cover short-term costs associated with managing and mitigating the effects of COVID-19 and supporting our community during this time.”
The measures announced on Monday are not the first time the City of Leduc addressed financial hardship in the community brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak. On March 20, the city announced municipal tax notice mailouts would be deferred by two months with a new property tax deadline of Aug. 31, 2020.
At the time, the city also announced that all “city utility account holders will be provided the option of deferring payments for up to three months.”
“Per regular bi-monthly scheduling, all bills will continue to be distributed to customers,” the city said at the time. “If an account holder is unable to pay, please contact our finance department.
“No penalty fees or service disconnections will be applied to any accounts in arrears during this time.”
For more information on the City of Leduc’s repsonse to the COVID-19 crisis, click here.
Watch below: Some Global News videos about the economic impact COVID-19 is having in Alberta.